A new £42 million super college for north Birmingham has been unanimously backed by council planners and welcomed as a great addition to the city’s education services.
Designs for the new Sutton Coldfield College campus in Aldridge Road, Perry Barr were described as ‘striking’ and hailed as a new landmark building for the area as it secured final planning permission.
The new Riverside campus will be built on the 7.5 acre former Express Diary site, flanked by the dual carriageway on one side and River Tame on the other.
It will replace the existing Great Barr campus, known locally as the Brooklyn College, further along Aldridge Road.
Planning committee members, who had a scale model of the building in front of them, were wholehearted in their support.
Committee chairman Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) said: “This will be a landmark building. It will add a great deal to the area, providing good service and meeting an educational need.”
He added that it marks further investment in the city at a time of economic difficulty.
Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) said: “This is long overdue. The site has been an eyesore for many years and this is a fantastic and striking building. I like the layout of the site, which uses the riverside location well.
“I only have concerns about car parking and would urge the college to consider ways to maximise the parking on site and protect grass verges.
“The existing campus is in my ward and we have lots of students cars causing damage to grass verges. There is the potential for major problems.”
The committee insisted on planning conditions to ensure the river and a historic bridge are protected during and after the building work.
Building work is expected to begin in late February and the college will open to sixth form students for the first time in September 2010.
It marks another major expansion for Sutton Coldfield College, which is undergoing a merger with the city centre based Matthew Boulton College to create one of the largest further education institutions in the country.
College director of estates Clive Hill said: “I am delighted that we have received approval for our new campus.
“Sutton Coldfield and Matthew Boulton Colleges are committed to providing the very best learning environment for our students and Riverside will enable both staff and students to benefit from outstanding learning and support facilities.”
A college spokeswoman described the new spiral building as ‘stunning’ offering a different scale from various parts of the site.
She said: “To the Aldridge Road, the building will appear as a four storey crescent which will have a strong presence but will not overwhelm the residential properties.
“To the north, the building will spiral up to five storeys of accommodation and on the west, the building will be have six storeys high.”